With ‘Blonde’, Marilyn Monroe Biopic from Netflix, NC-17 Movie Rating Finally Comes of Age

MThe rating given to . has been made Blonde.

The Marilyn Monroe biopic opens in select theaters September 16 and has been slapped with an NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association, meaning teens 17 and under will have to wait for it to hit Netflix 12 days later. To find out all the hype. Around.

And there is a stir. In an interview with the British Film magazine Screen International Last February, director Andrew Dominic boasted about the poster, taking it as evidence that he refused to budge on his interpretation of Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 book of the same name.

“It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of what you want, isn’t it?” He said.

The Australian director used a different tone in May, when he told Eagle He was “surprised” by the stern assessment.

“I thought we color inside the lines. But I think if you have a group of men and women in a boardroom talking about sexual behavior, maybe the guys are worried about what the women think. It’s just a weird time.” “It’s not like portraying happy sexuality. It’s a depiction of ambiguous situations. And Americans are really weird when it comes to sexual behavior, don’t you think?”

The tune continued with superstar Ana de Armas, who has already stunned audiences with her perfect looks in promotional shots. The actress targeted the decipherable MPA standards.

“I didn’t understand why this happened,” she told a French magazine. Lovecell This week when asked about the rating. “I can tell you a number of shows or movies that are more explicit with much more sexual content than Blonde. But to tell this story, it is important to show all these moments in Marilyn’s life that made her end up the way she did.”

with nothing but a short trailer Outside, it remains unclear which viewer the MPA’s “Independent Parents Group” led the MPA’s Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) to seal. Blonde The scary “Adults Only” sign. Dominic dropped rumors of an alleged sex scene showing menstrual blood. He asserted that the film featured rape, as well as other films that have crept with an R rating being more palatable. So far, the choice is as much a mystery to the audience as it is to those who made it. It’s a return to a pre-broadcast era, when ratings could make or break an entire movie, and disgruntled directors criticized the shadowy characters who decided the fate of their films.

CARA is known to be opaque, both about its operation and its employees. But it wasn’t always this way.

preemptive strike

In 1913, Ohio legislators voted to create a censorship board tasked with choosing which films could be shown in Buckeye State. Distributor Mutual Film Corporation, known for its work with Charlie Chaplin, has been fed up with board licensing fees and what it saw as a violation of free speech, suing the Ohio Industrial Commission. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1915 that the First Amendment did not apply to films because “they should not be considered, and are not intended to be viewed by, the Ohio Constitution, as we believe, as part of the nation’s press, or as organs of public opinion,” he wrote. Judge Joseph McKenna at the time.

Fearing the possibility of government censorship, Hollywood sought to regulate itself. The industry has been keen to ensure that its products – in this case, its films – are available to as wide an audience as possible without conflicting with concerned parents, the religious right or Congress. In 1922, the major studios of the time (including Fox Films, Paramount, and Universal) teamed up to found Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), with a mission to “restore a more favorable image of Hollywood and prevent government interference in its operations,” the film scholar wrote. Kevin Sandler in his 2007 book The Naked Truth: Why Hollywood Doesn’t Make X-Rated Movies..

In 1930 Will Hayes, president of the MPPDA, created a series of obscure codes that have shaped the film’s content from the moment of production, with the goal of ensuring that nothing questionable enters the final stage. The guidelines stated that “no image will be produced that would lower the moral standards of those who see it”, and singled out anything that promoted “crime, wrong, evil or sin”. Code was formalized in 1934 with the creation of Production Code Management at MPPDA. Her decree became known colloquially as “Code Hayes”. For nearly three decades, studios wholeheartedly requested the PCA’s required stamp of approval, but by the 1960s, studios and theaters slowly stopped caring.

Hollywood was falling apart…

“Hollywood was falling apart,” Sandler told The Daily Beast. They were making amendments to the law on production. You had all these foreign films that were not submitted to the rating board and were shown in big cities, on college campuses, etc. Hollywood was experiencing a massive loss at the box office, part of which was that kids didn’t watch the old movies they were showing. They didn’t want Hollywood, the magic of fufu.”

Enter Jack Valenti. A former special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, he became president of the MPPDA, later known as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), in 1966, bringing with him some valuable experience in the capital that the organization hoped would help them bypass government. audit. The MPAA introduced the rating system we know today in 1968. It included the popular G and R ratings, although at the time the R only forbade people under 16 and not 17 from watching a movie without a guardian. Various ratings and limitations have been introduced and removed over time. In 1984, it was rated PG-13 Added at the suggestion of Steven Spielberg, who wanted something between PG and R for his flashy movies. By 1990, the X rating was rated, which has been applied to critically acclaimed films such as orange orange And the midnight cowboy, has become synonymous with sedition in the public consciousness. It was replaced by the new NC-17.

As with everything else related to the rating board, the criteria are very vague. According to the MPA (the organization dropped the additional A grade in 2019), the rating could be based on violence, gender, aberrant behavior, drug use, or any other element that most parents consider too strong and therefore off-limits to viewing. their children.” Los Angeles Times Article – Commodity Since 1990, he has claimed that the new rating “is expected to pave the way for strong adult films to be released and marketed in theaters without the pollution of pornography now associated with an X rating.”

Director Stanley Kubrick (right) films a close-up of young Alex in a phallic mask as he cuts the clothes of the woman about to rape her in the photo. orange orange.

Bateman via Getty

Part of that turned out to be true. The range of themes explored in the films has undoubtedly expanded, with stories of gay, transgender, and bloodthirsty fighters finding enthusiastic audiences in theaters across America. But the narrow audience allowed in the NC-17 flick quickly turned the rating into a hateful distinction for filmmakers and studios, who didn’t see much value in spending millions of dollars on a film that might not turn a profit. Moreover, some newspapers refused to advertise inferior films, and retailers began refusing to sell them.

The aversion to ratings is so strong that the search for films that maintain the rating of NC-17 And the Played in cinemas produces only 40 titles. The most profitable was girls showwhich grossed $20.4 million in the United States against a budget of $45 million. followed by Henry and June, 1990’s drama about novelist Henry Miller and his wife June, which raised about $11.6 million. Closer to the bottom is Orgazmothe 1997 supernatural sex movie from South Park Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. She made $602,000.

Even if the director wanted to tweak his movie to satisfy the royalty rating, the MPAA’s shadowy machinations could make it hard for them to decide what to cut out. In the 2006 documentary This movie has not been rated yetDirector Kirby Dick spoke to Stone and Kevin Smith, Boys do not Cry Director Kimberly Pierce, et al on the volatile nature of CARA. Some patterns emerged: sexuality appears to be rated much more strictly than violence, gay sex scenes are considered more graphic than live sex scenes, and independent films are given far less space than those offered by major studios, which fund the rating board’s parent commercial group .

The classification of sexuality appears to be much stricter than violence, gay sex scenes are considered more graphic than direct sex scenes, and independent films are given far less space than those offered by the major studios, which fund the rating board’s parent commercial group.

Today, the CARA rating board is made up of “roughly” 10 parents who work part-time or full-time, the MPA told The Daily Beast via email. To join, a member must have no other affiliation with the entertainment industry, besides a child between the ages of 5 and 15, and can serve for a maximum of seven years, or until all of their children reach the age of 21, whichever comes first. Three of them are called “senior residents” chosen by the CARA chief. These three can work as long as they want, regardless of the age of their children. On a typical day, a group of reviewers watches two to three films before discussing them and determining their ratings. Senior reviewers are responsible for answering the filmmakers’ questions. The organization says that 70 percent of the films it grades come from non-member studios, whether foreign companies or smaller companies. It claims that the rating board is funded entirely by film submission fees, making it financially independent of the studios that pay in the broader commercial pool.

“The ratings are outdated”

For a long time, an NC-17 rating has meant making peace with little return on investment. But as the way we consume movies and television evolves, so does the public’s perception of this once terrifying sign.

In the months leading up to the release BlondeThere have been dozens of unreleased and categorized autobiographical articles. It’s a baffling charm, considering the movie was created for an online streaming service where a kid could easily click and watch the title, without fear of a cinema employee entering, lighting a flashlight in his face, and asking him to leave.

“As the media landscape continues to change and more content becomes available every day, parents rely on our ratings now more than ever,” the MPA said in a statement. “For more than 50 years, CARA has been the gold standard for how self-regulation works in a rapidly evolving industry.”

Poster showing the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system, circa 1987.

Movie Poster Picture Art/Getty Images

Until now, Blonde It is the only film of the year to have an NC-17 rating. It could prove to be a gift from the classification gods. A movie about one of the most talked about sex symbols in the world, at a time Ticket sales are still recovering from record lowsmay need the promise of something exciting to get people’s attention, even if it is in the form of a nearly meaningless poster.

“While in the past it was near the kiss of death in terms of the box office, NC-17 may provide a unique marketing avenue for a modern film,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “It’s been years since this was brought up, so I think it’s genius to have a recent movie on broadcast and have an NC-17 rating. It’s just going to help the movie.”

Sandler has been more vocal about the Netflix ratings gamble, hinting that it might be part of a strategy to get media coverage before the movie is released.

He said, “(Classification) is obsolete because classifications are outdated.” “I am 52 years old. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, you couldn’t keep up diverse Without looking at some story about the rating system. It has always been a cultural battleground. Now with the internet and streaming, how are you going to control that? You can not. It’s pointless.”

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